The National Bestseller Award announced a seven-book shortlist on
April 14—oh, the shame that I’m this late! This is a wonderful and rare case where I’m
interested in nearly all the books on a shortlist. Here’s the list, including
the number of points awarded by the “big” jury, plus links
to jury members’ reviews, which are easier to find than ever on the new
NatsBest site. They are a fantastic resource. NatsBest secretary Vadim Levental’s comments about the list are here. The winner will be announced on June 3.
- Anna Kozlova’s F20 (10 points) is apparently a novel about a teenage girl with mental illness. Jury reviews are here.
- Elena Dolgopyat’s Родина (Motherland) (9 points) is a collection of short stories by an author whose work I’ve enjoyed reading in the past. I haven’t read this collection yet—I don’t even own it—but have to admit that I’m already rooting for Dolgopyat because her past work has impressed me so much. Jury reviews are here.
- Andrei Filimonov’s Головастик и святые (known in English as Manikin and the Saints) (7 points) is represented by the Elkost literary agency so I’ll leave the description to them; it’s here. Jury reviews are here.
- Figl’-Migl’s Эта страна (This Country) (6 points) is a book I want to know nothing about: it’s enough for me to know that it concerns political prisoners from the early Soviet period. I’ve been waiting for it and F-M, whom I still haven’t read, won the NatsBest a few years ago. Despite mixed reviews—running the full gamut, something that I often take as a positive since it generally means the book gets under the reader’s skin—since the NatsBest longlist came out, I’m still very interested. Jury reviews are here.
- Aleksandr Brener’s Жития убиенных художников (Life Stories [as in lives, in the context of “lives of saints”] of Killed Artists) (6 points) is, according to the publisher, Hylaea, a book composed of brief stories/chapters about Brener’s experiences in various places around the world, looking at people, meetings, attachments, impressions… Jury reviews are here.
- Sergei Beliakov’s Тень Мазепы (Mazepa’s Shadow) (6 points) is nonfiction about Ukrainian history during the Gogol epoch. Jury reviews are here.
- Andrei Rubanov’s Патриот (The Patriot) (6 points) sounds, based on the BGS literary agency’s description (here), like a very Rubanovian Rubanov novel. Rubanov’s very good at showing contemporary Russian life. Jury reviews are here.